Marble statue of an old woman

Period: Early Imperial, Julio-Claudian

Date: A.D. 14–68

Culture: Roman

Medium: Marble, Pentelic

Dimensions: H. 49 5/8 in. (125.98 cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1909

Accession Number: 09.39

Description

The woman wears a thin elegant dress, thong sandals, and a crown of Dionysiac ivy leaves. She may be dressed for a festival and the birds and basket of fruit she carries might be offerings. Her garment has slipped off her shoulder, a detail often seen in representations of old women that hints at the liberation of the elderly from the restrictions imposed on women of childbearing years. As in many such figures, direct observation of reality lends force to deeper religious implications. The piece may be a copy of an older, Hellenistic model or a creation of the Roman period in a tradition that was still alive. It seems to have been deliberately damaged, probably in late antiquity, when such a pagan image would have provoked hostility.

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